Portland to Eugene (Oct 11-13)

Goodbye by Ulrich Schnauss on Grooveshark

I left Portland after several days of false starts.   I had planned on leaving earlier, but I had a number of loose ends to tie up: getting this report up to date, backing up all my data, silicone sealing the boxes, and giving away the last of my stuff, to name a few.  I will admit to a bit of lingering.

My departure was bittersweet as I bid farewell to Oz.  We had decided that we were no longer a couple some time ago, it seemed that we couldn’t stop driving each other crazy in that regard, but I will miss his company, as he is a true friend. He still wants to travel with me, but I wasn’t going to wait for him any longer. I’d given him since February to get his affairs in order, but circumstances meant that he has gotten no closer to being ready to leave.  Maybe he will catch up to me someday.  We’ll see.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end…”

I will miss Oz and my Portland friends, but I was thrilled to be on the road again.  I was excited for my newfound freedom.  There’s no going back now, only forward. Landing gear up.

I had left late in the afternoon, so I decided to camp nearby.  I remembered the Nestucca River camp where I’d stayed back in June, and decided to look for the free campground we’d been too lazy to seek out before.  It was a nice ride up into the mountains.

Eventually I found the site, though the campground was a bit worse for wear, and set up camp.

Very early in the morning, I awoke to the sound of rain. I was grateful that I’d had the foresight to put the rain fly on, I hadn’t been expecting to need it. I drifted in and out of consciousness until around 7 or 8, and then took advantage of brief breaks in the drizzle to pack up my gear. It was very foggy.

As I went to go I noticed this… goo on my seat, that had appeared overnight. What the hell? I cleaned it off.

Against my better judgement, I headed toward the ocean. I had wanted to check out Cape Perpetua and Thor’s Well, and figured that the rain would let up soon.  I arrived at Lincoln City, feeling like a drowned rat, and holed up in a small cafe for a few hours of dry warmth and coffee as it poured outside.

My peace was not to last, the cafe closed and I headed back out into the gloom. The rain and wind were relentless. I went slow and cautiously, at least 10mph under the speed limit, because I felt very precarious and vulnerable. I decided that I would have to see Cape Perpetua some other year and headed inland along Highway 20.

It grew late, and the bike began hiccuping like mad. Nothing helped.  Choke on, choke off, I even added some of the heet I use for cooking to the tank, hoping maybe it was just some excess water that had trickled into my fuel.  No dice – the bike continued to cough and stall.  I had to keep revving the engine to keep it from dying.  Darkness fell as I was looking for somewhere to camp.  Now it was dark, and I flipped up my tinted visor so I could see. The rain was pouring to the point that it was difficult to see the lines on the road, getting in my eyes. I was creeping along under 20mph, on a malfunctioning bike, on a road with no shoulder.  Fantastic.

I hadn’t seen any forest service roads whatsoever (even though the map said this was a national forest), and the first USFS sign I saw was for a boat launch.  Fuck it! I figured nobody would be checking it for improper camping in this weather, and spent way too much time setting up my tent. I was joined by a gentleman who was car camping in his work van.  We introduced ourselves briefly before I changed into some dry clothes and crawled into bed.

The next morning, I tried to dry out my belongings without much luck. Apparently, it was too humid. Oh well. I packed up the wet tent and put on my wet gear and rode off into a fairly peaceful morning. The sky was overcast, but at least it had stopped raining and the bike was running correctly. The road wasn’t bad either!

I popped out in Corvalis and decided to cruise through Eugene, as it was nearby and a Saturday. Somehow, I remembered where things were downtown. I parked in a parking garage (free weekends!) and wandered around the Saturday market for a few hours.  I filled up on some cheap Indian food from a cart and gawked at the handmade goods.

I went to leave, and the bike wouldn’t start.  It gave one good try at spinning the starter, but after that point, the button was completely ineffective. Hmm. When I opened the panniers to get my tools out, I found they had some water in them.  From opening the lids in the rain or leaking? Time would tell…

I spent the next few hours checking things – kickstand safety switch wires, kill switch wires, fuses. Nothing seemed to be broken. Obviously something was wrong, or the bike would still be working.

Night fell, and I still hadn’t figured it out.  Coug had offered to come save me but his truck wasn’t working.  I needed to find a place to sleep, and I was pretty sure the hourly parking garage guard patrol would not appreciate me sleeping next to the bike. I contacted several people, but nothing came together until Coug gave me the number of a friend of his, named Raven.  Raven and I exchanged texts and he agreed to let me stay there.

I took only the bare essentials with me to his house, and once there, set up my tent in his garden. Raven told me I could do laundry if I wanted, and I jumped at the chance. As I drifted off to sleep, I couldn’t stop thinking about my bike, stuck in that parking garage…

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